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Commerce Uncovers: Sustainability Sells

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It’s been impossible to miss the unprecedented rise of ecommerce in 2020 as global lockdowns sent people shopping online. It was the strongest growth for more than a decade. As a result, these increased online sales has meant more packaging and waste during a time when practices which exploit the planet need a critical overhaul. 

As a population however, a noticeable increase in people looking for climate friendly brands and solutions is seen, with 73% of UK consumers wanting to be more sustainable in 2021. With social causes and environmental impacts becoming more apparent and impactful, consumers are re-thinking where they buy and willing to spend with companies that align with their green values. For some, the cheaper cost is no longer the most important factor. 

Today’s shoppers are looking for brands that get it right and “walk the talk”, and nearly half are willing to pay a premium for brands that support recycling, sustainability and are environmentally responsible.   

Companies now need to look at how to align their values with sustainability. After receiving customers complaints, clothing brand Patagonia committed to replacing their plastic packaging with sustainable options, and documented their investigation and change process online. 

Elsewhere, global brands like L’Occitane are working towards a goal of using 100% recycled plastic in their bottles by 2025, whilst smaller independents like Serious Tissues are changing the world from the bathroom by selling UK made 100% recycled toilet rolls with no plastic packaging. 

Sustainability in ecommerce is moving from its status of being niche to essential. As consumers become more environmentally aware and take their money to ethical companies that are making the necessary positive changes, it’s time for more brands to make the better choice and show their sustainable credentials.  

Sources 

Allure – https://www.allure.com/story/garnier-one-green-step-report-2021  

IBM – https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/EXK4XKX8  

Internet Retailing – https://internetretailing.net/sustainability/sustainability/uk-consumers-are-becoming-more-socially-and-environmentally-responsible–and-are-calling-out-brands-that-make-meaningless-climate-pledges-21022  

Internet Retailing – https://internetretailing.net/industry/industry/ecommerce-grew-by-46-in-2020—its-strongest-growth-for-more-than-a-decade–but-overall-retail-sales-fell-by-a-record-19-ons-22603  

Patagonia – https://www.patagonia.com/stories/patagonias-plastic-packaging-a-study-on-the-challenges-of-garment-delivery/story-17927.html  

Serious Tissues – https://serioustissues.com/  

 

 

Lightbox Loves: Miss You Already?

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After more than a year of social and travel restrictions, economic uncertainty, and business closures, today is a day worth celebrating. For the first time this year, we can get our hair cut, shop to our hearts’ content and enjoy a well-deserved pint in our favourite local. With two thirds of Brits agreeing that the past year has been worse than a typical year, you’d think we’d be welcoming our new found freedoms with open arms, and never looking back…

To some extent, this is already proving to be true – even with freezing temperatures this morning, the re-opening of the high street was greeted with queues of Brits ready to experience a dose of normality. However, despite there being a huge appetite to enjoy many of life’s pleasures once more, over half of Brits (54%) claim that they are going to miss some elements of lockdown.

So much so, 1 in 5 of us admit that lockdown was better than expected, with this number doubling among 16 to 35 year olds. For 20% of Brits, personal finances have improved as a result of the pandemic, 1 in 3 now feel closer to their immediate families and 1 in 5 feel a stronger sense of community, claiming that they now have a better relationship with their neighbours.

It seems that we might already be starting to look back at the first lockdown with rose tinted glasses. A viral TikTok video which romanticises some of the cultural highlights of the March 2020 lockdown – such as Tiger King, #clapforcarers, DIY hair cut disasters and baking banana bread, describes last year as the ‘good ol’ days’ and ‘#bettertimes’, which has generated over 1 million likes and 35k comments – many of which positively reminisce about when lockdown was novel, recalling the period as ‘fun’ and ‘a vibe.’

As humans, we are very good at looking back with a glass half full attitude, focussing on the fond memories gained during lockdown, whilst allowing the more traumatic recollections to fade away.

Whilst it’s still too early to tell whether some of the fondness held towards lockdown will become part of culture, or if it will be all-forgotten as ‘normality’ resumes, brands who can help us navigate ourselves out of lockdown, by showing empathy towards our experiences over the past year, and continue to focus on some of the positives gained during this time are likely to engage consumers in both the short and long term.

 

Sources:

https://www.tiktok.com/@wil.gos/video/6917607961292508417?referer_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tyla.com%2F&referer_video_id=6917607961292508417&refer=embed&is_copy_url=1&is_from_webapp=v1

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/uk-coronavirus-restrictions-lockdown-rules-study-b925875.html

https://www.kcl.ac.uk/policy-institute/assets/a-year-of-life-under-lockdown.pdf

https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/year-life-under-lockdown-how-it-went-and-what-people-will-miss

Lightbox Loves: TV Recap Podcasts

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Throughout the last year, with many of us feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the impact of the pandemic, we turned to memories of the past for comfort. This involved revisiting old favourite TV shows, films and music as this brought a sense of nostalgia during such an uncertain time.
According to a Nielsen study conducted with Billboard in the USA, which explored the impact of the pandemic on entertainment consumption, it showed that more the half of consumers sought comfort in familiar music and TV shows – with 54% recently rewatching episodes of an old favourite TV show. This trend was also observed in the UK where according to a survey by Uswitch, 45% of Brits rewatched the sitcom Friends.

Looking at what is driving this trend, an article by Stylist discussed how when rewatching old favourites, or listening to old music we are remembering the good memories that are associated with them, whilst also longing for those “better” times.

To accompany this, there as also been a rise of TV recap podcasts. Although not a new trend, it is something that has certainly picked up pace during the pandemic with revisiting of old favourite TV shows. These podcasts are hosted by former stars of the show, such as The Office, where they provide listeners first-hand experience of their production.

One example is the popular podcast called; Fake Doctors, Real Friends, which features Scrubs co-stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison, who relive the hit TV show, discussing an episode of the show each week. In an interview with The Ringer, Braff explained that the podcast happened to appear at a time when people were more likely to revisit Scrubs, as it offers their audience an excuse to focus on something other than the pandemic.

They are not the only ones who have taken advantage of this trend. ‘Talking Sopranos’, debuted last year hosted by former Sopranos stars Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa, and the upcoming launch of “Welcome To The OC, Bitches!” in April with Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarkes, comes nearly 18 years after the show’s premiere.

Going back to our favourite TV shows and / or accompanying them with a recap podcast, has offered comfort and escapism from the situation we have been navigating this past year. It will therefore be interesting to see whether this trend will continue and offer opportunities, especially as we start to ease out of lockdown.

Commerce Uncovers: The Range

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This month The Range became the latest online retailer to launch their own marketplace allowing other brands the opportunity to sell to their customers. Approved sellers will receive exclusivity rights to avoid competing with other sellers on the platform but will also have to deliver items to customers directly and manage returns process.  

We often hear about the rapid increase in DTC retail however the stats show that marketplace shopping is still miles ahead. In the UK 57% of shoppers now buy from marketplaces, compared to the 13% who order directly from retailer websites. This was accelerated further by the pandemic when between March and June of 2020, the average online shopper made 11 purchases from online marketplaces but just 3 from an online retailer* 

Whilst marketplaces like The Range are nothing new (*cough cough* Amazon) their existence gave many brands a lifeline during lockdowns as traditional retail outlets closed, but at what cost? Fees vary massively for brands looking to sell on marketplaces, The Range reportedly charge between 7-20%. When you factor in the cost of delivery, returns and fulfilment this doesn’t leave much profit margin for sellers. 

Sellers also need to be careful with their choice of marketplace. Whilst onboarding as many as possible might seem like a logical step, these marketplaces have different audiences in the same way as media does, so they need to make the right choice. This way they can fully optimise their marketplace homepage to be an extension of their brand.  

For those retailers such as The Range who have pivoted towards marketplaces, there is an opportunity for a huge additional revenue streamNot only can it provide a bigger pull to new and current customers to get more items in one place, but there is also advertising revenue to be made. Take ASOS as an example, they started selling media space within their listings to drive users to their most “strategic brands” but with job vacancies for programmatic execs it’s clearly something worth investing in.     

 

*Source: E-Commerce News  

 

 

Lightbox Loves: NFTs – Useless Junk, or the Future of Selling?

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Earlier this month, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey announced he was selling his inaugural tweet, in an auction scheduled to end on March 21st, the fifteenth anniversary of Twitter, with proceeds donated to charity. At the time of writing, the highest bid is $2.5m.

The contents of this tweet, you ask? “just setting up my twttr”.

That’s it. That’s the tweet.

The auction is the most outlandish use to date of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), a craze which – from video basketball trading cards to William Shatner memorabilia – is revolutionising the collectibles market. NFTs are digital entries on the blockchain – the technology used by cryptocurrencies – and thus cannot be altered. Each token is unique, and the purchaser receives no physical copy. Once Dorsey’s tweet has been sold, it will still be accessible to anyone online who wishes to view it, free of charge.

Much like Bitcoin, the NFT market is booming, having grown by more than 705% in three years to $338m, according to Forbes, as tech entrepreneurs scramble to invest in rival auction services. That growth is snowballing in 2021, fuelled by ludicrous price-tags like the $69m just paid for a .jpg file at a Christies auction.

While these tokens may seem to appeal only to millionaires with cash to burn, NFTs could play a pivotal role in the future of digital media. The technology offers a secure route for creators to sell their work, with buyers safe in the knowledge that they are receiving an authentic item. If the owner sells on their token, the original artist receives a cut, as they do for each subsequent sale, creating a continuous source of income not afforded by physical art.

After a decade of creators protesting over lost revenue fuelled by the rise of streaming services – an issue only exacerbated by the pandemic, as shops shuttered and venues closed – NFTs may offer musicians an opportunity to claw back lost royalties. The acclaimed group Kings of Leon are among the first to experiment with the technology, releasing a version of their album this month exclusively as an NFT.

Print media, too, may look to adopt blockchain technology. Fuelled by a near-terminal decline in advertising revenue, many titles have sought to implement paywalls, with varying degrees of success. NFTs could offer an alternate source of revenue for publishers, where consumers participate in microtransactions for individual articles.

While NFTs represent only digital works for now, this could change. In 2019, Nike obtained a patent which allows it to create blockchain-compatible trainers – where the token would serve as a digital certificate of the shoes’ authenticity. Should Nike’s experiment prove fruitful, other brands will surely follow.

The use of non-fungible tokens is not without controversy, however. Far from a sustainable breakthrough, the carbon footprint of producing an NFT is enormous – one piece of digital art created by the musician Grimes produced an estimated 70 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Furthermore, like any booming market, the risk of investing in NFTs is substantial: many in the financial world have long predicted that the blockchain bubble would burst in much the same vein as the dotcom bubble of the early 2000s. So far, their predictions have come up short.

Whether the recent NFT craze will have a lasting impact on the digital media industry remains to be seen. Yet, after a year in which almost every aspect of life was forced to adapt to a new digital normal, brands should turn a blind eye to this latest trend at their peril.

Commerce Uncovers: The rise of buy now pay later

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It is recently reported that John Lewis is about to launch its own buy now pay later (BNPL) product as they respond to consumers thirst for more convenient and easier ways to pay. With talk of M&S following suit, BNPL schemes have been the fastest-growing online payment method in the UK last year and are predicted to account for 10 per cent of UK e-commerce spending by 2024.

The agreements, provided by firms such as Klarna and Clearpay, are a flexible payment method that allows customers to make a purchase when they may not have the funds at that time. They can then pay for their goods flexibly – and interest-free – either within a 14-day window, 30-day window or in instalments.

Klarna recently has raised $1billion (£720million) of new funds amid rapid growth. The Swedish firm reported to be valued at $31billion making it the most valuable fintech firm in Europe.

Greater regulation is not far behind, but that will only bring further consumer confidence in the payment mechanic.

Shopping cart abandonment is one of the biggest issues that online retailers still face, with a lack of payment options being one of the key drivers. The payments landscape however, is evolving at pace, responding to consumers’ drive for convenience and the ability to have more flexibility in their purchasing decisions.

Retailers need to think about what payment methods they want to integrate to give their customers the right choice.

What else we’ve uncovered:

You Tube is testing the ability to shop directly through videos, as it creates a shoppable platform.

Amazon quietly buys a competitor to Shopify as battle hots up.

Shopify to introduce Shop Pay to Facebook and Instagram to help businesses capitalise on social commerce

 

Sources

Econsultancy – https://econsultancy.com/stats-roundup-coronavirus-impact-on-marketing-advertising/

Internet retailing – https://internetretailing.net/mobile-theme/mobile-theme/almost-a-fifth-of-the-uks-population-have-used-buy-now-pay-later-as-they-shift-away-from-credit-cards-and-towards-mobile-22843

This is Money – https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-9333191/John-Lewis-offers-online-buy-pay-later-scheme.html

 

 

 

Lightbox Loves: The Pratfall Effect

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The Pratfall effect is a theory developed by psychologist Elliot Aronson in the 1960s, and according to the theory you can become more appealing or likeable by admitting or demonstrating your own flaws. The theory was discovered after an experiment where Aronson has recorded an actor answering a series of quiz questions. In one experiment group, participants saw the video where the actor simply answered most of the questions correctly. In the other group, participants saw the actor answer the exact same way but during the quiz he spilled a cup of coffee over his shirt. Boths groups were asked to rate the actor’s likeability and Aronson found that the participants found the clumsy actor more likeable.

This type of study has been replicated with different environments, from people rating other’s attractiveness, to during job interviews or when people are choosing which cookies look more appealing to them. All studies demonstrate the Pratfall effect and the appealing nature of authenticity.

Many brands have already used the Pratfall effect within their advertising, from Stella Artois’s ‘reassuringly expensive’ ads to own up to being more expensive that most pints, to KFC’s famous apology campaign where they changed ‘KFC’ TO ‘FCK’ to apologise for running out of chicken in 2018 using full page print ads. Buckley’s cough medicine ad in 1990 using the phrase “People swear by it. And at it. It tastes awful. And it works.” helped them become one of the leading cough and cold medicine brands in Canada.

The Pratfall effect can have the implications of honesty and fallibility, and by owning these flaws the consumer is less likely to think you are lying about the other messaging they see from you. According to Edelman’s Brand Trust report in 2020, 53% of people say that trusting a brand is the second most important factor when purchasing a new brand, only behind price. Therefore, even though it can be a gamble to openly admit a flaw as your ad tagline, it could also be a great way to humanise your brand and be more likeable to consumers.

 

SOURCES

https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/2015/oct/28/pratfall-effect-brands-flaunt-flaws

https://www.einsteinmarketer.com/pratfall-effect-marketing/

https://www.edelman.co.uk/research/trust-barometer-special-report-brand-trust-2020

Lightbox Loves: Hoping for a Holiday

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Despite holiday booking season thrown into chaos by changing and conflicting government advice, most Brits remain hopeful for a holiday this year.  A certain level of realism remains; most currently hope to follow Matt Hancock for a “Great British summer”. This is evident in booking patterns: last week, Pitchup, an online glamping platform, was 92% up on sales year-on-year. Sales even accelerated after Grant Shapps warned against booking travel. Nonetheless a quarter dream of travelling to Europe and 15% still hope to fly to more distant destinations.

But what are we so keen to escape? What does our hopes for holidays say about us? And with travel still uncertain, how can brands help fulfil these urges?

1) An escape from the day-to-day 

Parents of kids under five are the most hopeful to get away. They are not fussy – their wish to escape is prevalent across all destinations. Over half are looking forward to a UK break. It seems that after a year of childcare issues, working from home and parental leave indoors, they are desperate for any change of scenery. Brands can offer audiences a respite from the stasis with gardening, homewares, and decoration to create a sense of change and renewal. And with Mother’s Day on the horizon, they can consider how they to support mums in much need of a break.

2) An escape for new experiences? 

With record youth unemployment, a disastrous exam season and isolated universities students, it is no surprise that Gen Z are dreaming of flying far, far away. Four in ten 18-24s hope to get out of Europe – ten times the 4% of their Gen X parents’ generation with the same aim. Brands such as John Lewis have tapped into the human need for new experiences, with their online experiences covering everything from dog grooming through to wine tasting. Meanwhile, Audible continue to use the slowdown of international travel to promote their subscription service under the line “fly Audible to travel the world”.

3) An escape to new cultures? 

While Londoners are equally likely to anticipate a staycation, they are the region keenest to leave the country altogether. A third want to escape to Europe and a third wish to go farther still. Used to the world’s cuisine and culture on their doorstep, has lockdown life driven this urge to get abroad?  A rise in themed “culture nights” see some groups pick “destinations” and select food, drinks and entertainment from this country, can brands tap into this trend?  And as out of home leisure re-opens, there may be opportunities for pubs and restaurants to offer more immersive cultural experiences.
With normality of international travel still some time away, brands should think laterally about how they can help provide an escape from the ongoing cabin fever of lockdown life.